My menubar apps – Part 2

(Continued from Part 1.)

In the first post I talked about instant messaging, e-mail, information organization, task management and calendar syncing all from within that small white-ish bar across the top of my screen. That covered the first five icons in my menubar. Let’s see what we can accomplish with the rest of the menubar icons.

menubar1.png

Mozy (free*)

I try to backup my Macbook on a somewhat regular basis. But I’m a human just like the next guy, and so I often go weeks at a time without even thinking about firing up my backup solution of choice. For those times in between there is Mozy.

Mozy is an automatic, online backup solution for Mac and Windows. Basically, I tell Mozy what I want it to back up and it makes sure that everything lives in two places. I can choose specific folders or even data sets (like “all e-mail” or “my Address Book”). I can then setup how often I want it to backup by giving it a certain time of day and frequency, or having it automatically backup when my computer is not in use.

Any time I need to recover a lost file all I have to do is click the icon and choose “Restore Files…” and Mozy will show me everything that it has backed up to their server. It even keeps multiple copies of each file and it encrypts everything so my data is safe as it travels across the interwebs.

Thankfully I haven’t needed to use Mozy yet, but I definitely sleep a little better each night knowing that it is running.

* Mozy offers any user 2GB of space for free. Unlimited space is available for a modest $4.95 per month. They also offer business-class solutions called “Mozy Pro.”

iStat Menus (free)

A while back my Mac started running a little slower than normal. I often have Firefox open for days along with other apps like Mail, iCal, iTunes, Textmate, Twirl, Things, and others. It is usually at this point that I try to push my luck and open Photoshop and my computer starts running in slow-mo. I decided I wanted to keep an eye on what applications were hogging the most memory and CPU cycles. So, I installed iStat Menus and got so much more than I expected.

iStat Menus installs as a preference pane in System Preferences. This is where I can control how much or how little the app displays in my menubar and what each element looks like. I use vertical graphs for my CPU usage and RAM. Clicking on either gives me a list of the applications that are using the most of each resource. So, if my CPU meter spikes all of a sudden, I can click the icon and see which app I need to quit to regain control of my machine.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. If you look down further on my menubar you will notice my date and time listed. This is also being done by iStat Menus. Why should I let iStat Menus do that instead of just using the standard Apple date/time menubar item? Because I want more control over what it looks like and especially over what I get when I click on it. With iStat Menus I can click the date/time and see a full monthly calendar along with the current time in multiple time-zones. This helps to keep me from calling people on the west coast at 5am. (You’re welcome.)

iStat Menus will also display information about my hard drive, network connection, computer temperature, fan speed, and bluetooth connection.

Sync, Bluetooth, Volume and Battery

The next few icons are boring and I apologize. These are just some of the standard Apple items that live in my menubar. I don’t really have anything interesting to say about any of them.

MenuCalendarClock ($19.95*)

MenuCalendarClock gives me a nice looking display of the day of the month in my menubar. When I click the icon it shows me a small monthly calendar with all of the days that contain iCal events highlighted. At the bottom of that calendar view it lists the events that are scheduled for the currently selected day (color-coded by calendar). This offers me a quick way to view my upcoming schedule and see whether I am free for a meeting on a certain day without having to switch over to the full-blown iCal app.

* MenuCalendarClock can be used for free without extra features like iCal integration.

Spotlight

The last icon is the good old Apple Spotlight (search). While I actually don’t use spotlight much I still keep it in my menubar just in case. I reassigned the default spotlight keyboard shortcut CMD-Space to open Quicksilver instead of Spotlight. So I felt like I needed another easy way to get Spotlight open in case I ever need it.

Conclusion

That finishes our tour of my menubar applications. I hope you found some gems that you can use in your daily workflow. If you have an app that I don’t currently have installed that you think would rock my world, please leave a comment. I am always on the lookout for great Mac applications.